After the adoption of the 18th Amendment ….. work together with the President, to keep alive democracy and chase away fears of Dictatorship.
Posted on September 9th, 2010

By Charles.S.Perera

 Thomas Jefferson said , never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. 

 Some question the “indecent” hurry to adopt  the 18th Amendment to the  Constitution.  The human mind is so fickle and one does not know when one would change the mind on an issue.  Therefore, it  is correct that the Constitutional changes are made when the government still has the two third majority. It is now or never. That perhaps explains the haste if there was any.

 It also allows  the President to go ahead with the appointment of the Commissions that had been postponed due to practical difficulties with the 17 th Amendment. 

 More importantly  there is  the 13 Amendment to the Constitution which the President may be able to look into more closely with the two third majority he has in the Parliament.

 In 1987 the Indian Government to please the TamilNadu state intervened  trespassing our  air space to drop food  packets to the terrorists under attack by the Sri Lanka Armed Forces.   It was after that an Indo Sri Lanka agreement was signed  forcing JR Jayawardhana to include the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, to allow the Indian Government to send a Peace Keeping Force, and to merge  the North and Eastern provinces  to  facilitate their work.

 This was an Amendment to the Constitution which was introduced without  clearly examining the issues involved,  and requires  removal replacing it with a more  acceptable legislation.

 Thereafter the parliament may examine the Constitution  further to find out what more  amendments should be made to make it  suitable for  a fast developing country.  These are the advantage that the adoption of the 18th Amendment brings in its train.

But Western media as much as their governments would not like to  see Sri Lanka as  a third world country develop independently,  without their “colonial dictates”.   The world has changed and  Sri Lanka has to look forward without being bound to  its former pseudo  benefactors, who instead of helping Sri Lanka to develop  threw  barriers on the path of its development.

The European Union when it withdrew the GSP+ trade concessions bring in irrelevant  demands of adherence to their version of ” human rights” Sri Lanka has had enough. It showed, leaving no doubt  that Sri Lanka cannot depend on the West for its development. Hence it was forced to look for  other nations who have in the meantime developed far better than the West both economically and technologically, and are politically wiser and generous towards the developing countries.

This continuing  obstruction  by the countries of the West for developing countries, and the contempt with which they look at them, ridicule and false media  publicity to bring discredit to our country and our politicians are forcing Sri Lanka away from its former attachment to  West.

With the latest political changes taking place  in Sri Lanka with a President who has more than a two third majority in Parliament, mustering  great popularity among his people  the  BBC and  Associated Press have a field day. 

BBC sub-headline reads: Sri Lankan MPs have approved proposals to let President Mahinda Rajapaksa seek an unlimited number of terms, in a move critics say could lead to dictatorship.

Charles Havilland of BBC, twisting the news his way, makes the reader understand  with a disgusting look in  face that  the “hawkish” President Mahinda Rajapakse wants to retain the presidency for an unlimited period of time.  He has made the President  look a dictator with the slight twist in his report.

The fact is that the Parliament adopted an Amendment to its constitution, which allows any living President to contest a presidential election any number of times.   With that legislation the Sri Lanka government does not step out of the democratic norms sacrosanct to the West, the Anglican Church and others of their ilk. 

But Havilland used the  article “the” instead of “a” before the word “president” in his report and for good measure  added ” ..and boosts the powers of the head of state “

His report  reads, “The office of the Sri Lankan president has just become significantly more powerful. The constitutional amendments passed by MPs with a massive majority remove the limit on how many times the president can stand for election. and boosts the powers of the head of  state “  (emphasis is mine)

The office of the Sri Lankan president  had always been powerful, except  that, with the 18th Amendment  he is able to  make things function better than he was able to with an unworkable 17th Amendment which had been  included into the Constitution before its workability  had been carefully examined.

BBC  had also spoken to Sarath Fonseka, the former Army Commander  who had political ambitions.  He had said that the passing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution is “the last nail into the coffin of democracy” and that ” The president is trying to take the country towards dictatorship and we will fight against it,” .  Sarath Fonseka does not know the difference between a Dictator and an executive President.  At least the people of Sri Lanka could be happy that he did not become the President.

Sarath Foneka has further said, “We consider today as the day the sovereignty of the Nation was murdered. A country needs a constitution not to strengthen the President or the ministers but to protect rights of the people. The existing constitution has ample provisions for power if someone engages in politics honestly. As such, this amendment is brought to fulfil personal ambitions.  “

 The day that the Sovereignty of Sri Lanka was murdered was the day that Sarath Fonseka gave the nominations to contest the Presidential  elections.  Protecting the rights of the people is to strengthen the President and a government dedicated to the service of the people. 

 Sarath Fonseka has no right to  speak of  political honesty of the President when he turned  a traitor to this country by using the war to enrich the family, and brought  discredit to  the country which  eliminated terrorism with the correct political leadership and the Armed Forces that conducted the warfare obedient to the duties expected of them..

In the meantime Ranil Wickramasingha who has lost political credibility, unable to conduct his own party “democratically”, makes a hue and cry that the  adoption of the 18th Amendment is the end of democracy in Sri Lanka. 

He says the presentation of the Bill of Amendment to the Constitution was in violation of the Constitution itself.  Wickramasinghe speaks as if the people of the country have already forgotten the very high handed method he used  when he was only the Prime Minister of the UNF Government, disregarding the President,  to go behind the Parliament, to sign the CFA with the terrorist leader Prabhakaran giving the terrorists rights over the  territories occupied by them.

He has introduced a new term the “perpetual Presidency”.   Any one with any common sense, if not prejudiced against the President,  may understand that the 18th Amendment does not create a perpetual Presidency.  It  only removes the restriction on the number of times  a person could contest  a Presidential election.

Surprisingly Mr.Weliamuna of the Transparency International had said that a President  could be charged in a court of law when he has completed his second term of office, but the adoption of the 18th Amendment  gives the President a life long immunity.  This is wrong as in fact the President is the loser, as before he had immunity for two terms office, but  the removal of the restricted term of office makes any President answerable to the law after the end of each term of office. 

In any case  for the people who are unbiased , and  believe in the President Rajapakse after having observed the development taking place under his leadership, the work he continues to do for the welfare of the country and its people, adoption of the 18th Amendment gives him the courage to continue with the projects of development he has in his mind, before he hands over the reins to some one else elected by the people to continue the work from where he has left.

The best way to keep alive the democracy  every one in the opposition fears to loose is to bury the hatchets of discord, and join the President and the Government to work together to make a great country out of Sri Lanka. That would also help to chase away fears of dictatorship.

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